Pete Belli
United States
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."

CNN is a combination trivia question and performance game that attempted to recreate the experience of working as a TV news correspondent in the 1990s. CNN uses a simple roll & move mechanic that allows the correspondents to visit locations where important events (like a Barbra Streisand concert... Yes, that is one of the events included in the game!) are happening around the world. These correspondents are represented by plastic airliner pawns jet-setting across the planet.

Each player has an international passport (a mysterious "international" document... Mmmm.) and the correspondents check off story requirements as they cover breaking news. The first TV reporter to complete a checklist and make it back to CNN headquarters in Atlanta is the winner.

The locations of these breaking news stories vary from player to player based on the color of the pawn being used. This is a good mechanic and the fact that some of these locations are quite distant from each other is mitigated by the use of the CNN Special Bulletin cards which can send a player directly to a major city from any space on the board. Unless a player is unlucky he or she will not be required to tediously roll the die and crawl across the map to finish an assignment.

Along the way players have to answer trivia questions (of course; what mass market game didn't include trivia elements in those days?) and the question being asked is based on the color of the pawn. This clever rule will keep two players from being hit with the same question in a long game. Some of these trivia questions in CNN may have been rendered obsolete by the passage of time. Here is an example:

Q: In June 1994, you did a background story on actor Pierce Brosnan, the new James Bond. You reported that he had been offered the role before. Why didn't he take it?

A: He was under contract to perform in the TV series Remington Steele.

Perhaps the most interesting element of the game is the CNN Live Report phase. When a correspondent lands on a Live Report space he or she can draw a card and give a 30 second performance covering a breaking news story. If another correspondent can correctly identify the subject of the Live Report both players are rewarded with additional die rolls.

Aside from the fact that some of these subjects are also quite dated (Phil Donahue, President Clinton's inaugural address, etc.) the game does not include a timer. However, this is a fun method of creating interaction between the players.

After a correspondent completes his or her assignment checklist and heads back to HQ in Atlanta the end game is similar to classic Trivial Pursuit. The player must answer a question in his or her color group. Failure requires the player to leave the headquarters space and try again.

This unique title was published by Game Plan, Inc. in 1994. It might have some value as a media industry curiosity. Maybe. In addition to being quite dated this game could drag out a loooooooooooooong time if the players are not news junkies who were following current events in the 1990s.

However, I have a few suggestions that could update this game for the political and cultural realities of the 21st Century.

WARNING! Some areas in the the following section may contain sarcasm and irreverent humor. If this might offend you, please stop reading now. Thank you.

Rules Update #1: These CNN correspondents are flying across the globe creating huge carbon footprints. If any player rolls a "six" on the die the network must purchase expensive carbon credits to offset this extravagant use of fossil fuel. The affected player must lose one bonus die roll previously earned by a successful CNN Live Report performance.

Rules Update #2: The media industry has become much more competitive since 1994. If a player approaches a point where a choice of pathways is offered the pawn must move to the left. Please see the illustration shown here for an example of this new rule:


Updated Question #1: Who is the hippest, coolest, grooviest guy to ever serve as president of the United States?

a) Millard Fillmore
b) Richard Nixon
c) Barack Obama

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Updated Question #2: Which celebrity has done the most to help the children of the world?

a) Michael Jackson
b) The Octomom
c) Mother Teresa

Spoiler (click to reveal)

Updated Question #3: Who made the internet the most important technological development of the 21st Century?

a) Al Gore
b) The porn industry
c) Aldie and Derk

Spoiler (click to reveal)

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